6 Ways to Beat Holiday Blues

Cooking fancy meals. Shopping for presents. Planning the perfect holiday family gathering.

For most people, the holidays are a joyous time, but the office parties and family gatherings can make some people anxious, lonely and depressed.

Feeling restless, isolated and unhappy are symptoms of what is typically called the holiday blues. And, while they could occur during any holiday or vacation period, they are more common during the November and December holidays.

“The holidays can make some people feel out of control, and that feeling is usually the result of having high expectations,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of the Behavioral Health Services division of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency. “The goal is to take some control over the holidays to avoid the stress and the pressure of creating the perfect holiday.”

How can you keep the blues at bay?

“It’s all about balance,” said Aguirre, who also offered these tips:

  • Establish realistic goals and expectations
  • Set a spending limit and stick to it
  • Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Get involved with others and spend time with people who are supportive and caring
  • Look for opportunities to express kindness by volunteering at a shelter, meal delivery service or senior center
  • Eat healthy, exercise regularly and try to laugh; laughing is a great aerobic exercise

Although they can be emotionally intense and upsetting, the blues usually subside after the holidays and normal routines are resumed.

After the holidays, if you are still feeling sad and discouraged, you may be still struggling with depression, so keep an eye for the following signs:

  • Loss of interest in once-pleasurable and enjoyable activities
  • Eating more or less than usual, or gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping, or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling slow or restless
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or inadequate
  • Having difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly or making decisions
  • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Withdrawal from others

“If your symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your normal relationships, seek help from your primary care physician or a mental health professional,” added Aguirre.

For information about mental health resources, visit People suffering from depression or from an alcohol or drug-related problem should seek help by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact